Last month I took my son Ben to Disneyworld for his birthday, just a mom & son trip. It was the first time I've done a Disney trip without the entire family and I have to say, despite a little bit of guilt I was feeling it was a lot of fun!
The trip actually came about after reading that Disney was doing away with Star Wars Weekends. I had talked about and planned to take Ben to that in May this year. When I read about it being canceled I was super bummed. We're both big Star Wars geeks (aside from being huge Disney fans!). So then I thought, maybe I'll take him for his birthday instead. We could enjoy some of the new Star Wars stuff (character meets, Launch Bay, Symphony in the Stars fireworks, etc). And, he's the only one who hadn't celebrated a birthday at Disney.
Here's where the fun came in - I didn't tell him what I was planning! I waited til a week before we left to tell him with these vintage style ticket booklets that I made:
I did a few Google/Pinterest searches, used the background & castle image from this post, & played around with them in Photoshop til I got it the way I wanted. Aside from it being a fun way to surprise him it also makes a fun keepsake (I made sure to size it just right so it'd fit in a Project Life pocket page).
We stayed at All Star Sports Resort. We had never stayed there before and I thought it would be perfect for mom/son 12th birthday trip! Here's a quick run down on what we thought about the resort:
Pros: Fun, upbeat theme, esp around the pool area which had beach balls, ping pong tables, & other games throughout the day. Food court had good food (and great cupcakes...yum!!) and the couple of meals we had there were big enough for Ben & I to share. Cast members were so great. Great gift shop.
Cons: Although I didn't expect much the rooms were still a bit boring (think inexpensive hotel with some Disney decor thrown in there). However, at the $90/day deal that I got I really can't complain. Mousekeeping only replenished toiletries 1 day out of 5 (and yes, I tip mousekeeping on a daily basis). I left a nice note for more & they more than made up for that (con turned into pro)!
The food court was very loud at times, as was the resort itself around the pool area. Lots of groups coming and going, mostly near the weekends. I knew this going in so it wasn't a huge deal for me and thankfully we had a room a little bit away from the pool area (but still in the preferred section) so we really didn't have any noise issues. My biggest pet peeve was that there were no towels at the pool area. After asking about this I discovered you had to either request extras from housekeeping or go to the front desk - both an annoyance if you're there with your family & just wanna take a spur of the moment dip in the pool.
All in all we enjoyed All Star Sports but I probably wouldn't pick it for a big family trip (I think we've been spoiled by Port Orleans!). But for the 4 day trip we had it was just fine, especially since we weren't planning on spending much time there anyway.
We had planned on spending 3 days at the parks and then 1 day at 'Ohana for breakfast and then Downtown Disney Disney Springs (gonna take me a while to get used to that change, just like when they changed MGM Studios!). However, after our 3rd day Ben had commented that he wished we could go back to Hollywood Studios again so after discovering that adding on another day at the parks would cost the same as our breakfast at 'Ohana he chose another day at HS. I would have chosen 'Ohana but it was his birthday trip so I gave him the choice :) And we lucked out because the wonderful cast member at Guest Relations also gave us 3 freebie FastPasses that we could use for any ride (that had FastPass) at any time in addition to the 3 we already had for the day. Score!! Needless to say we used our 6 FastPasses to ride Star Tours, Tower of Terror, and Rockin' Roller Coast twice!
Shirts are from Wish Upon a Shirt
One of the things I hesitated spending money on but ultimately purchased was the Memory Maker and I'm so glad I did. It's a bit pricey (even if purchased ahead of time) for just a 3-4 day trip but with it just being the 2 of us I didn't want a gazillion selfies and/or I didn't want to constantly be asking the PhotoPass photographer to take pics with my phone.
I also love ride photos! We ended up with a ton of great photos, multiple magic shots like the one above - and a few videos - so I'm super happy I decided to pay for Memory Maker. And being able to see them quite quickly on the My Disney Experience app was also pretty cool.
There are a lot of people out in the internet universe who call Animal Kingdom a half day park and I couldn't disagree more. It has always been one of my favorites. During this trip we didn't even get to see all of the park...but we did ride Expedition Everest six times (yay for Extra Magic Hours)!! Twice in the front row which, if you're a roller coaster junkie like us, you must experience. It's a totally different ride!!
Our one and only character meal of the trip at Tusker House. Good food, good fun :)
We got a peak at Pandora. Can't wait to see what they do with this land!
So here's what's great about doing a 2 person trip - you can do whatever you want (like ride Expedition Everest 6 times), eat when you want, grab a snack when you want, and skip a ride or show if you want. Now, don't get me wrong, it's not like we spend hours arguing on our Disney trips because no one can agree on a ride or food. Our family Disney trips are pretty awesome. However, it's very liberating to go with just one other person and say "hey, let's ride it again!" and we don't have to check with what everyone else in our family wants to do. And since I have a 4yr old it's just not practical (or fair) for me to go on a ride 6 times that she can't go on.
Fog + Tower of Terror = Spooky cool!
Hollywood Studios was a ton of fun because the last time we were here Ben was too short for Rockin' Roller Coaster. We definitely made up for that during this trip! I'd need to go back and check but I think we may have ridden it 5 or 6 times.
We can't go to Hollywood Studios without eating at the Sci-Fi Theater. This time we were 'hitchhikers' & hitched a ride in the back seat ;)
Ya know what else is great about taking a trip with just 2 people? You don't really think twice about getting a milkshake (or funnel cake or whatever). Because for one person it's not pricey - milkshakes for 5 people is much more costly!
Oh, and we got to meet Bolt! Not every day that he's walking around the parks :)
We didn't do a lot of character meets but we just had to do this one :)
We were so looking forward to meeting Chewbacca and Darth Vader and they did not disappoint!! And all of the memorabilia in the Star Wars Launch Bay was pretty cool.
Oh yeah, definitely one of the highlights of this trip, hands down! And the Symphony In The Stars fireworks were ah-mazing!!! I kinda liked them better than Wishes. I know, I know...don't get me wrong, I love the Wishes fireworks but it was just so cool to see something different. Kind of how I felt when I saw the Paint the Night Parade at Disneyland last year.
Normally on a trip to Disneyworld we would go to Magic Kingdom on the first day. But since this was a quick trip we had to maximize our time based on park hours. So we didn't get to Magic Kingdom til day 3. And this was the first time out of all of our trips that we caught the morning show. Such a great way to start off the day! Although I'm super bummed because apparently while recording it I didn't realize I had hit pause so I missed all the characters arriving on the train in my video :( There's always the next trip, right!!
Magic Kingdom looked quite different from our last trip for sure! And the new Fantasyland area was definitely our favorite. We started off our day at Gaston's Tavern with a cinnamon roll that was quite large (would you expect any less from Gaston?!)
So much had changed since we were there last and we couldn't wait to check it all out!!
And yes, we ate lunch at the Beast's castle!! The decor was amazing, especially in the West Wing where we managed to snag a seat. We both had the roast beef sandwich which was soooo good. And, of course, a meal at the beast's castle wouldn't be complete without the Master's Cupcake (with the grey stuff which was delicious!)
And while a bit short the Seven Dwarfs Mine Train Ride was a lot of fun! I wish we would have gotten the chance to ride it a 2nd time. But as most Disneyworld fans know, it's hard (if not impossible) to get everything done at Magic Kingdom in just one day. And despite going in February which should be a low crowd time of year there were still a lot of people there.
And did I mention it was hot? I so wish I had brought shorts (and so glad I told Ben to pack a couple pair!)
So many things had changed since we were at Disneyworld last (back in 2011 when I was 4 months prego with Addie!). I wasn't sure how I was going to like all of the changes. When the MagicBands first came out I admit I didn't like the idea of them. But after using them I loved them! Everything being linked on your MagicBand was such a convenience. You can even make purchases via your MagicBand as long as you have set up a credit card to your room and a 4 digit pin.
As far as booking FastPasses in advance, I admit I still don't totally like the idea. Yes, it was great for a 3-4 day trip to pretty much ensure that we'd get to ride our favorites. However, I'm a person that doesn't like her whole day planned out to the minute so that aspect still bugs me a little. Despite that, since we didn't go during peak season I was able to move a couple FastPasses around via the MDE app when I needed to. Speaking of the MDE app, it was quite handy!
The trip seemed to go by in the blink of an eye but we made some amazing memories! It was so nice to be able to just get away with Ben & have a fun time with just the two of us. Of course, my oldest daughter is already talking about the trip she wants to take with me! The years with our kids go by way to fast so it's nice to take some time & really enjoy it :)